Training camp has begun and the hockey world is finally gearing up for its next season. So, it’s time to roll out what may be a regular column-type thing from me this season. A semi-regular short-term look at the how the Canes are doing while singling out some highlights and low-lights. And what better way to do so than with good ol’ plus minus action.

PLUS

Cane-Alytics Award winner Patrick Brown

Photo credits for this and other player photos: Jamie Kellner

 

Patrick Brown – Kid had a helluva game in our first preseason outing against the Capitals. He was the team’s main contributor to any sort of offensive generation at 5v5 play. Beyond opening the scoring, Brown led the team with 5 shots on goal, 4 scoring chances, and +8 5v5 Corsi. Which is somewhat impressive because only 25% of his 5v5 zone starts came in the offensive zone. Also, make sure to check out Corey Sznajder‘s incredible blog detailing numerous hard-to-find statistics from this game.

Including the end of last season and Monday’s game, Patrick’s strong performance makes me wonder how a full season with him as a 4th liner would go. Could he drive shot production better than vets we currently have slotted in? He’s certainly giving Canes management a reason to give him a longer look.

Elias Lindholm/Jeff Skinner – Lindy and Skinner (and Stempniak) were impressive in their first game action of the season Tuesday night in Tampa Bay. Mostly matched up against Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, and Cory Conacher, our top line carried the play. Lindholm led all skaters with +9 5v5 Corsi and 8 individual shot attempts including 6 on goal in all situations. He also had the third highest time on ice in the game at 20:42, which is neat. Could this be the season where Elias breaks through with consistent point production?

Skinner had a great night and appeared throughout the box score. He had the eventual game winning goal, 9 individual shot attempts (5 on target), a +6 5v5 Corsi, and two minors for trips (that immaturity though). The more shot attempts Skinner fires at or around the net, the better, and it’s great to see his season warm up looking like he’s already in peak Jeffrey form.

Brett Pesce/Noah Hanifin – I will admit to being a bit apprehensive about the Pesce/Hanifin pairing this season. Pesce had the benefit of playing with our most reliable defensive defensemen last season, Liles, and now he’ll be playing with Hanifin, who struggled a bit on the defensive side of the puck. However, I don’t doubt their will to improve as players, and it’s clear Noah has taken steps in the off season to increase his strength and #size.

Tuesday’s game relaxed me a bit. They both played big minutes: 23:57 for Pesce and 22:11 for Hanifin. Pesce was dynamite with an assist, seven shot attempts (four on goal), and +3 5v5 Corsi. Noah finished with 3 shots on goal and was the highest defensemen in Corsi +/- with a +6. While it’s just one preseason game, it was nice to see no rust on some of our most important players.

MINUS

Sergey Tolchinsky

Sergey Tolchinsky – Sergey’s playing style doesn’t match up perfectly with Jordan Staal and Joakim Nordstrom‘s, but it isn’t too far from what could be expected of him on a nightly basis in the NHL. All the advice given to Sergey on how to make the NHL/AHL has been about learning to play the NHL style of game, not a juniors style, where you can get away with trying to do everything by yourself. Unfortunately, with a lot of defensive zone time, Sergey was really unable to get anything going offensively 5v5 versus Washington. He had a -9 Corsi differential and had zero individual attempts, shots, or chances.

Tolchinsky picked up 2 shots on goal and was on the ice for 11 Carolina shot attempts on the Power Play, where he fared much better. It’s just one meaningless preseason game and really calling this a minus is a bit on the harsh side, but whether or not Sergey can find consistent offense at 5v5 in the NHL is still an unanswered question.

This Column’s Plus/Minus Award Winner

Patrick Brown

The first winner of the coveted Cane-alytics Plus/Minus trophy.

We come to expect these performances from the regulars. Brown surprised in that he rose to the top of the Capitals game and gave the Canes’ top brass a reason to keep him around.